Human: The Yard Animal

Did you take your dog for a walk today? Or do you think that he's fine because you have a yard?

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday. She wanted to get a dog but lives in a small studio apartment. Also, she was very surprised that one of her neighbors has a Great Dane. "They must be living on top of each other", she commented.

I told her that dogs really don't need a lot of room, they are cubbyhole dwelling animals, they love finding a cozy little spot and curling up with a good bone.

She then said that she doesn't have a yard; "the dog needs a yard to run around in". She added.

I thought this point was worth closer examination.

Do dogs really need a yard?

Most people believe that dogs need a yard. Now don't get me wrong, if you have one you might consider letting your dog use it, however, you should also consider the fact that yard-dwelling dogs are likely to develop territorial aggression, incessant barking and gate-charging behavior. Which led me to start thinking about who is the yard really for?

This is my conclusion.

The yard is NOT for dogs, its for humans.

Its easy(er) for us to put our dogs in the back yard and let them do whatever. This way we don't feel so bad for not taking them on a walk which is what they (dogs) really need and want.

So to all you apartment dwelling humans, not having a yard and taking your dog for a nice, long walk instead is in fact preferable.

Say 15-30 minutes in the morning and 30-45 minutes in the evening. You might not like it, but your dog needs a walk more then he needs a yard.

On weekends, I would recommend longer walks and more time-in overall with your dog.

What else do humans rationalize in our minds and say "oh, its for the dog" that isn't?

I think grooming is another such delusion humans engage in.

We think that bathing a dog, clipping the dog's nails and whatever else they do at the dog salon benefits the dog somehow.

At best, we are compensating for lack of long walks (a natural nail trimmer for dogs) and since we are a "clean" culture having a filthy dog would result in our inability to cohabitate; which brings up an interesting question.

Who would suffer more if there wasn't for the other? 

Don't get me wrong. Whatever we can do to make ours and the dog's existence better, happier, smoother, etc., I'm all for it. But next time you think you are doing something for your dog, ask yourself.

Am I doing this because it benefits me somehow?

Trace your rational thought back in your brain and it will no doubt lead to an emotion. What emotion did you discover?

We all know which emotions are good and which ones are bad, so make it good.
Can you think of the time when you rationalized your actions to make it seem you’re benefiting someone else; when in fact, it was benefiting you in some way?


  1. awh...this is awesome...thank you for the re-post.

  2. Thank YOU for writing such a great article and sharing it! It's funny, we had many conversations on the very same topic.

    Our dogs taught us how much a walk means to them. Our friends' dogs taught us how much a walk means even if they have a whole horse farm for a yard.

    We did conclude that apartment dogs are often better off, because they at least get taken around the blog to potty, while the dogs with yards just get to sit there all alone.

  3. Thank you! I really needed that message :)

  4. It bothers me when rescue groups will not adopt dogs out to people who don't have a fenced yard. I don't have a fenced yard and I run a dog daycare from my home. It's called taking the dogs out for a walk/run!

  5. Hi Lindsay. It's just silly, isn't it? Recently somebody was looking to have their dog put up for adoption and also insisted on a yard.

    Dogs don't want to sit in the yard, they want to go out on walks with their people.

    Most dogs with big yards live sad lives. Our guys are perfectly happy, they get to go for walks. That's what dogs want. Not being alone in the yard.

  6. And then there's the exception to every rule :)

    I live on 3/4 of an acre and instead of walks, I play outside with my dog 2-3 times a day. We incorporate obedience and chances for her to sprint her little heart out up and down the driveway. We also have 2 pockets of "wooded area" on our property for her to sniff around in. Because we live quite rurally, I'm not comfortable walking after dark but feel that our yard time is enriching enough.


  7. Hi Ashley, yes, I can see how your dog could be content with play time in the yard with you. The main point of this article was people sending their dogs in the yard by themselves. If you play with your dog, your dog will be happy.

    The other advantage of actual walking as opposed to play, however, is the therapeutic benefit. But that is really a different point all together.


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